- Genre: Sports, Drama
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: Brain’s Base
Haru hates Judo. Ok that’s not really true but he’s not good at it. Well that’s not fair either, he’s actually decent but he’s nowhere as good as his big sister and he’s just not enjoying it that much, even without taking into account his injured shoulder. But what is he supposed to do? Everyone expects him to not only practice Judo but excel at it since his family has been running the Dojo for generations. Haru feels trapped and he’s not having any fun. Lucky for him, his best friend Kazu just happens to have the perfect solution. They are going to form an all men’s competitive cheerleading squad. All Problems Solved!
When I saw the title Cheer Boys!! (double exclamation point!!) pop up in my Crunchyroll app, I figured this would be a vapid, shallow, potentially stupid but probably pretty little show. Basically, I judged it as if it was an actual cheerleader. Yes, I’m a bit of a jerk – in my defense, it’s only because I’m incredibly jealous. So why did I watch it you ask? It’s called Cheer Boys!! You guys, it might as well have been titled “Irina, watch this!!”.
Since I figure I was not the only one drawn to this show by the tawdry title and the promise of pretty boys jumping around, the visuals are really important here. And Brain’s Base were quite aware of that. The designs are carefully thought out (or should I say calculated). They are good, quite good even, but there’s a nondescript superficiality to it, it’s almost as if you could see the market research in every line. The venues and backgrounds were fantastic and looked very inviting. I enjoyed the decision to set the story in a University Campus rather than the usual high school. This allowed the creators to do away with uniforms and created entire, varied wardrobes for their characters which were very nicely done. On a side note, and I may be completely off the mark on this, but the design for the Chinese exchange student seemed rather exaggerated when compared to everyone else and gave me some mildly racist vibes.
Unfortunately, the art is uneven and angles look very odd especially when it comes to noses. It was actually difficult to identify character’s faces as soon as the camera tilted a little.
Cheerleading is a great sport for an anime. All those close quarter acrobatics have the potential to produce some truly spectacular animation. Sadly, Cheer Boys!! Either didn’t have the budget or were lacking in some other resources to truly capitalize on this unique strength. Aside from a single, interesting, routine performed with a smaller team in episode 5, all other actual performances are either shown in stills or skipped. I felt very cheated, even more so when you consider that the decent intro gives us a taste of just how enjoyable such an animation would be. The music direction was fine but the voice acting could have been a little better.
So ok, the technical aspects could use some work but what about the story? Well, Cheer Boys follows the standard sports anime structure pretty closely. 1) New team is formed, 2) new members must be recruited, trust and friendships bloom, 3) new team must pass first round selection, tension and conflicts arise and 4) team trains like crazy for regional/nationals, everyone is nervous but hopeful. Surprisingly, this show chose to approach the formula form a much more dramatic vantage point than usual. I wouldn’t really call it a comedy at all. And OMG is there ever some DUH-RAMA. So much manufactured drama it got downright campy. And not only do huge conflicts and/or tragedies spring up suddenly out of nowhere, they also get resolved almost instantly, just in time for the next crisis. I didn’t know it was possible in an anime but everyone here was overacting. And not just the voice actors, those cartoons were hamming it up big time!
Since pretty much everyone suffered from some variation of manic depression, it is hardly surprising that characters were left largely undeveloped. It was particularly hilarious when the main character’s defining personality trait is just dropped in episode 6 and never mentioned again…
As for the Sports! part of this teenage soap opera. For all the scenes of them practicing, we really don’t learn much about cheerleading. I’ve mentioned before that one of the things that tends to draw me to sports animes in the first place, is that they are very often written by true fans of the sports and you can feel the love radiating from those stories. I did not believe for a single second that anyone associated with Cheer Boys!! felt any passion for cheerleading. And as they didn’t have any actual team to cheer on (apparently you can just be competitive cheerleaders and not cheer anyone in particular) that whole aspect of helping morale of another team wasn’t present at all. Clearly, this show was not meant to share admiration for the sport of cheerleading but rather to capitalize on the trend of mildly hoyay sports animes that have been so popular lately.
And the worst part in all this, the thing that makes me really cringe…I don’t hate this show. It’s impossible to take seriously and easily slides into campy shlock which is rather amusing in a B movie sort of way. The ridiculous characters may be mere caricatures but they’re not unpleasant and even a little charming, especially in earlier episodes. The little gags made me smile and the drama was to insubstantial to make me sad. I enjoyed the little wink of having unconfident, overweight Ton be the only one with a girlfriend and in a very happy relationship at that. It was a Jerry Gergich sort of thing but with an extra twist that made it that much more delightful. In the end, the show was harmless mush, artlessly designed for a precise demographic. Namely me.
Random thoughts: This show featured a lot of different t-shirt designs and they were all awesome! If they ever have a “fashion from the show” shop – I’m there! Also, is English the only language people are allowed to cheer in? We no spiffy Japanese shouts?
Favorite character: Kin
What this anime taught me: I’m a simple simple soul
When you’re drunk, you notice the Earth really spins
Suggested drink: Cranberry Cheer
- Every time Haru is being shy – have a drink
- Every time Mizoguchi adjust his glasses – have a drink
- Every time someone does a summersault – practice
- Every time we see curry/katsudon – have a snack
- Every time Mizoguchi quotes someone (dixit) – have a drink
- Every time someone says “thumbling” – have a drink
- Every time we see a Pocari Sweat bottle – hydrate
- Every time someone blushes – have a drink
- if it’s Haru – switch to water
- Every time we see a squirrel – have a drink
- Every time Ryuzo sparkles – have a drink
- Every time Kin hits on the coach – have a drink
- Every time Coach laughs – laugh too
- Every time we see bad routine drawings – have a drink
- Every time Hishashi takes cheerleading way too seriously – offer him a drink
- Every time they say all-men/men only – raise your glass